Friday, January 9, 2009

Ellie Nesler, 1952 - 2008

There were certain things that had built up in my Google Reader feed that I never got around to writing about, and this is one of them.

It's kind of odd that I never got around to this, because one of my old blogs (the Ontario Empoblog) would print things about Ellie and William Nesler with some frequency.

For example, here are excerpts from something that I wrote in July 2004:

Well, I hadn't heard what happened to Ellie after she was released:

"But in July 2002 she was back in prison, sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to two drug charges -- furnishing methamphetamine to an undercover police officer and possessing ingredients to make the drug. She is still in prison."

Over the last few days, additional material has come out about the son who was molested in the first place:

"SONORA -- William Nesler, the 22-year-old son of courtroom slayer Ellie Nesler, is wanted on suspicion of attempted murder."

William Nesler eventually surrendered to a California gubernatorial candidate.

By 2005, Ellie Nesler's cancer had returned, and that she was receiving treatment in Chowchilla prison. She was initially diagnosed and treated during her first stint in prison, resulting from shooting and killing William Nesler's molester (back when Willie was much younger). Shortly after that, William Nesler's trial began, clouded by his violent nature. William Nesler was convicted, and then made a statement:

David Davis, I didn't know the man. He's dead now. That's all I really have to say about him.

Around this time, I actually received contact from the Nesler family. It resulted from a blog post that I wrote called The Other Nesler, which talked about Ellie Nesler's daughter, Rebecca (Becky) Nesler. I quoted from an article (no longer online) about Rebecca, and concluded as follows:

I purposely entitled this post "The Other Nesler" rather than "The Good Nesler." Not knowing any of the three of them, I can't make a value judgment and say that Ellie and Willy are "bad" and Becky is "good." While acknowledging that Ellie and Willy have done bad things, who am I to value one over the other? And, as a parent, I wonder if I would have done what Ellie did....

Almost two years later, this comment was posted:

Thank you for NOT judging someone you don't know! You have a rare look on things, which MANY people lack...
posted by Anonymous Rebecca Nesler : Tuesday, June 05, 2007 5:12:00 PM

On the other hand, I recorded a comment that I had received earlier:

Ellie Nesler was given a compassionate release from her initial imprisonment due to breast cancer - not because of sympathies for her actions. Instead of thanking her lucky stars, flying low and avoiding the radar, she thought she was above the law, and was caught with 10,000 sudafed tablets believed to be intended for the manufacture of drugs (methamphetamine). Even during her second incarceration, Ms. Nesler still believes she is above the law. I know, I served time with her at Valley State Prison for Women in California. She is still there, continuing to make life miserable for everyone she comes into contact with. I also had to endure working with her in a job assignment. She would push rules to the limit, act as though the regulations did not apply to her and generally create tension with all staff and inmates she interacted with. She is the instigator of many fights, has had to have her housing moved because of the dissension she causes, and is generally not a pleasant human being. It is of no surprise to me that her own son has been arrested for murder. I don't believe for a minute it was the molestation he endured that shaped him into an angry young man, he is merely modeling behavior that was exhibited by his mother, presumably, the entire time she was present in his life.

posted by Anonymous : Monday, October 11, 2004 7:21:08 AM

I have not mentioned Ellie Nesler publicly since February 3, 2006.

But toward the end of last year, Crunchy Con linked to a Los Angeles Times article. Here are excerpts:

Ellie Nesler, the mother who took the law into her own hands in a Northern California courtroom by shooting to death the man who allegedly molested her young son, has died. She was 56.

Nesler died Friday morning at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, said Phyllis Brown, the hospital's public information officer. The cause of death was not revealed, but Nesler was known to have been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1994.

The story of Nesler and Daniel Mark Driver, the 35-year-old Christian camp employee who in summer 1988 allegedly sodomized then 7-year-old Willie Nesler, became national news after she shot Driver several times in the head and neck in the Tuolumne County community of Jamestown on April 2, 1993....

The sympathetic portrait of Nesler painted by her defense team began to erode within weeks of the crime, when tests found Nesler to have been high on methamphetamine at the time of the shooting. It also came to light that Nesler had a criminal record with a conviction at 18 for auto theft and served several months in a California Youth Authority facility....

She was sentenced to 10 years in prison but won an appeal based on juror misconduct and was released after three years.

But her problems with the law did not end. In July 2002, she was convicted of buying 10,000 pseudoephedrine tablets used to make methamphetamine and was sentenced to six years in prison. She was granted an early release from the Central California Women's facility in Chowchilla in 2006....

Willie Nesler later had his own trouble with the law. Raised by an aunt while his mother was in prison for killing Driver, Willie repeatedly landed in juvenile hall, in teenage work camps and in jail as an adult. During a five-year period, he was arrested by sheriff's deputies and booked into county jail at least 18 times on charges that included robbery and drug-related offenses.

In 2005, he was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for stomping to death a man whom Willie Nesler had let live on the family property, in a dispute over tools. Nesler killed David Davis within an hour of being released early for good conduct from a 60-day sentence for an earlier assault on Davis.

Now incarcerated at High Desert State Prison near Susanville, Nesler was aware of his mother's declining health, according to Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"He knew she was very ill, and he was in communication with her -- as long as she was able to talk -- and then with family members the night before she passed away," Thornton told The Times.

Willie Nesler has requested temporary community leave to attend his mother's funeral. Prison officials are reviewing that request.

In addition to her son, Nesler is survived by her daughter.

In the end, Willie Nesler did not attend the funeral; he remained at High Desert Prison near Susanville. The funeral was attended by about 50 family members and friends, and two television crews - and, presumably, one Modesto Bee reporter.

In front of the lectern was a collage of photographs, most of them snapshots of a beaming Nesler with her family. The only exception was a Modesto Bee photo from her 1993 arraignment, when she wore a jail jumpsuit and a worried look on her face.

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